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Samsung And Oculus Announce Mobile VR Headset

by Mike Futter on Sep 03, 2014 at 04:16 AM

During Gamescom 2013, we spoke with Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey about his aspirations for merging virtual reality with mobile technology. Today, that vision is one step closer to reality with the announcement of the Samsung Gear VR.

The Gear VR is an add-on for the newly announced Samsung Note 4 phone, which has a 5.7 inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display. The device is attached to the head mount. The Gear VR uses the hardware in the phone, so there are no tether cables.

According to Oculus, the experience offers similar optimization to the recently shipped Developer Kit 2. An “Innovator Edition” will be the first release, intended for developers and enthusiasts. The general public will likely be encouraged to hold off for a bit.

It will ship with a number of entertainment applications, including Oculus Home (with access to the Oculus Store), Oculus Cinema, and panoramic playback of video and photos in 360 degrees.

Oculus says it still has challenges to surmount, including six degrees of freedom positional tracking (available on the DK2), limits on processing power, heat issues, and battery consumption considerations.

The Innovator Edition will ship this fall and the mobile software developer kit will launch before the end of October. Oculus assures that the mobile project is parallel to the Rift development and not intended to replace it.

We’ll likely learn more when Oculus holds its first developer summit later this month.

[Source: Oculus, Samsung]


Our Take
The inclusion of six-degree positional tracking in the DK2 was a huge step forward, and I’m curious to see what it’s like to return to something more limited. The portability of this experience might make it ideally suited for viewing rather than playing, and bringing one of these on an airplane (for instance) might make for the most peaceful flight I can imagine.

I’m surprised that the mobile initiative has progressed so far already. I would have suspected that the consumer Rift would be the exclusive focus until release, but with a growing staff and common software development, this makes sense.